Phytoplankton cultures are widely used in aquaculture for a variety of applications, especially as feed for fish larvae. Phytoplankton cultures are usually grown in outdoor tanks using natural seawater and contain probiotic or potentially pathogenic bacteria. Some Roseobacter clade isolates suppress growth of the fish pathogen Vibrio anguillarum. However, most published information concerns interactions between probiotic and pathogenic bacteria, and little information is available regarding the importance of phytoplankton in these interactions. The objectives of this study, therefore, were to identify probiotic Roseobacter clade members in phytoplankton cultures used for rearing fish larvae and to investigate their inhibitory activity towards bacterial fish pathogens in the presence of the phytoplankton Nannochloropsis oculata.
The fish pathogen V. anguillarum, was challenged with 6 Roseobacter clade isolates ( Sulfitobacter sp. (2 strains), Thalassobius sp., Stappia sp., Rhodobacter sp., and Antarctobacter sp.) from phytoplankton cultures under 3 different nutritional conditions. In an organic nutrient-rich medium (VNSS), 6 Roseobacter clade isolates, as well as V. anguillarum, grew well (10 9 CFU/ml), even when cocultured. In contrast, in a phytoplankton culture medium (ESM) based on artificial seawater, coculture with the 6 isolates decreased the viability of V. anguillarum by approximately more than 10-fold. Excreted substances in media conditioned by growth of the phytoplankton N. oculata (NCF medium) resulted in the complete eradication of V. anguillarum when cocultured with the roseobacters. Autoclaved NCF had the same inhibitory effect. Furthermore, Sulfitobacter sp. much more efficiently incorporated 14C- photosynthetic metabolites ( 14C-EPM) excreted by N. oculata than did V. anguillarum.
Cocultures of a phytoplankton species and Roseobacter clade members exhibited a greater antibacterial effect against an important fish pathogen ( V. anguillarum) than roseobacters alone. Thus, cooperation of N. oculata, and perhaps other phytoplankton species, with certain roseobacters might provide a powerful tool for eliminating fish pathogens from fish-rearing tanks.